Skip to main content

Mars Area Elementary School

Mobile Menu Toggle

STEAM Teacher Named ‘Martian of the Year’

Colleen Hinrichsen, Mars Area Elementary School STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics) teacher, was named the 2023 Mars New Year Martian of the Year.

Hinrichsen joined Mars Area School District in 2005 as a first grade teacher at Mars Area Primary Center, before moving to a third grade position at Mars Area Elementary School. In 2015, she became one of five District ITC (Instruction Technology Coaches), offering individualized training for teachers on integrating technology tools in their classrooms.

In 2017, she assumed the position of STEAM teacher at Mars Area Centennial School, where she also founded a before-school “Project LITE (Ladies Innovating with Technology & Engineering)” Club open to sixth grade girls interested in STEM-related careers.

In 2020, Hinrichsen moved to her current position as a STEAM teacher at Mars Area Elementary School. In her STEAM classes, Hinrichsen encourages innovation through the use of stop-motion video production; computer coding and engineering design modules offered through online software applications; and the integration of new technologies such as iPads, 3-D printers and pens, Cubelets robot blocks, Sphero robots, Makey Makey kits and more.

Mars Area Elementary School students analyze the functions of innovative tools and the tinkering process; use digital tools to design multimedia-embedded projects; and investigate problem-solving methods through research and development. Hinrichsen has also connected her students with engineers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory via Skype to learn more about the future of space exploration.

Hinrichsen has shared her knowledge and teaching experiences at conferences offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, The SAS Institute, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) as well as at the Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference (TRETC) and Promethean Pennsylvania/Ohio ActivEducator Conference.

In 2022, Hinrichsen was named an Allegheny County Intermediate Unit (AIU3) transformED Teaching Fellow and was selected as an “All Star Teacher” by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pirates Charities in 2019. In 2017, she earned certification as an Apple Teacher Learning Center “Apple Teacher;” and, in 2014, Hinrichsen was one of three Mars Area teachers named to the 2014 Pennsylvania Association of Supervision & Curriculum Development (PASCD) Class of Emerging Leaders.

In 2018, she was one of two teachers from the Pittsburgh area selected to attend Space Camp for Educators at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (Huntsville, Ala.). At the camp, she learned about space and aviation history, complete simulated space missions, and joined in authentic astronaut training activities.

Hinrichsen was recognized at the Mars New Year Blast Off Dinner, held Feb. 23, at the Steamfitters Events Center (Harmony). This year’s Mars New Year celebration will be held June 9-10 in Downtown Mars.

For more information, visit